ROCKBlue’s approach of largely using virtual assistance had its origin in wanting to provide high calibre assistance at the lowest possible cost. At present, with the global shift towards remote work and home offices, virtual assistance is not uncommon. Over the years the ROCKBlue approach has been tweaked to ensure the best possible service delivery to our partner utilities. This blog post deals with the broad characteristics of ROCKBlue’s virtual approach.
Once there is an expressed interest in ROCKBlue’s form of assistance, an agreement (memorandum of understanding) is signed with a partner utility. A kick-off questionnaire is filled out which provides ROCKBlue with critical information that is used to rapidly and thoroughly understand the partner utility. This information helps with assigning a Specialist who has the relevant experience which will most benefit the utility.
Simultaneously we conduct our due diligence to find an appropriate local Resident Representative to serve as the ‘face’ of ROCKBlue. The Specialist then interacts with the utility via phone/WhatsApp, email, and SKYPE. The Representative is the conduit between the Specialist and the utility. To be effective, the individual should have a strong cultural connection with the partner utility. These dedicated volunteers are indispensable to our virtual approach since relationship building, trust and confidence can be accelerated with their presence.
Our approach may not work for others where face-to-face assistance is absolutely necessary or where significant product or material support is required. However, ROCKBlue has seen significant results using the virtual assistance approach.
The major benefits of our virtual approach include:
- Extremely high value for money
- Rapid response times (as travel time is removed)
- Greater safety as, invariably, travel adds to safety risks as we’ve now seen with the coronavirus
- Greater willingness of highly skilled Specialists to volunteer their assistance
- Minimal back-office assistance required for travel bookings and support
- Almost no impact to the environment from carbon emissions
As ROCKBlue we openly share our approach so that others can replicate it to maximize impact for the developing world while also becoming more cost-competitive. Please feel free to ask questions; you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.